Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), angling for his 22nd term in Congress, said today “that, so far, my dreams and expectations of having a president like Obama have been achieved” — brushing off Obama’s comment two years ago that the scandal-ridden congressman should hang up his gloves.
Rangel, 81, is currently the third-longest serving members of the House. He stepped down as Ways and Means chairman in 2010 over 11 counts of ethics violations, for which he was censured by the House that December.
On CNN today, Rangel said he wasn’t past his prime and is still needed in the House.
“I know every two years congressmen say that your life depended on it. But when you see the polarization that’s taking place in this country, when you see actually the poor being the target of severe cuts because of the deficit and you see the sacred mold that’s being put around the wealthy and you see that, so far, my dreams and expectations of having a president like Obama have been achieved and that’s being threatened, and I have the opportunity to continue my work in terms of the affordable health bill, concentrating on education, providing health care for everybody, making certain that we have a military but not at the expense of the poor,” he said. “It is such a great opportunity.”
The congressman was presented with Obama’s quote at the height of what Rangel called today “my so-called scandals.”
“He’s somebody who’s at the end of his career, 80 years old. I am sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens,” Obama said then.
Rangel was asked if he needs the president’s support. “Of course not. I would welcome it,” he responded. “But what did he really say? That I reached the end of my career. I’ve been here for 41 years, now going on 42. That he wished I leave with dignity. I have no question that I will and his wishes will be fulfilled. What did he say that was so derogatory if you take the words?”
“Now, true, he didn’t hug and kiss me like I wish he would but I don’t have any problem,” Rangel added.
Rangel faces a tough primary challenge from state senator Adriano Espaillat. His district is now more Hispanic than black.
“If you take a look at the diversity of my voting congressional district, there won’t be a problem there in terms of getting re-elected,” the congressman said. “As I said, and over spoke, there are people in Texas, powerful political Republican groups, there are people here in Washington that have come up with my name as a target. And it’s not just a guy running for re-election on the primary ticket. It’s a guy they have been after for years.”